2014 CIS Football Team Preview: Laval Rouge et Or

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Source: Stéphane Jobin, Laval Sports Info /Photo credit Yan Doublet

2013 regular season record: 8-0
2013 regular season standings: 1st in RSEQ
2013 playoff record: 4-0
2013 playoff finish: 32-11 home win vs Sherbrooke(RSEQ semi); 14-11 home win vs Montréal (Dunsmore Cup);41-28 away win vs Mount Allison (Uteck Bowl); 25-14 home win vsCalgary (Vanier Cup)

The Rouge et Or will attempt this season to become the firstteam in CIS history to claim three Vanier Cups in a row, afterbeing crowned for a second straight year on its own field lastseason, thanks to a 25-14 win over the Calgary Dinos.

Laval will once again rely on a competitive team with the returnof eight starters on offense and the same number on defense. Theyeight-time national champions will also see three key playersreturn from major injuries: DL Jean-Alexandre Bernier, DB ThomasGirard and REC Matthew Norzil. These three student-athletes hadmissed the entire 2013 season.

The Rouge et Or also has the challenge to maintain theirsequence of successes at home, which stands at 65 games. GlenConstantin’s players have not lost on their own turf sinceSeptember 2004, a 14-13 setback inflicted by the Montreal Carabins.It is the same “Bleus” who will be the first visitorsto TELUS-Université Laval Stadium on September 6 for theopening match of the 2014 season.

Quote from head coach:

“Overall, we should have a competitive team, even though manyveterans have left us.”

“We have improved our defensive line with the return of VincentDesloges (Ottawa RedBlacks) and Jean-Alexandre Bernier for a fifthseason. It is very interesting for our defensive line to benefitfrom their experience.”

“Our DBs will be more consistent and more mature. We hope tohave fewer changes every week as it was the case last year. Ourlinebackers should also give us nice things, since we have thechance to enjoy some stability at that position.”

“Offensively, four of our five starters on the line are back.There will be a good battle for the position of centre to replacePierre Lavertu (Calgary Stampeders).”

“In the back field, the team is full despite losing PascalLochard (British Columbia Lions). Maxime Boutin, Guillaume Bourassaand Christophe Normand are already established, but young playerslike Vincent Alarie-Tardif and Christopher Amoah are already verygood.”

“At the quarterback position, Alex Skinner has gained experiencelast year, but he will miss the first two games of the regularseason due to a suspension imposed internally. Rookie Hugo Richard,who did very well in spring camp, is already showing some nicethings so far in training.”

“Finally, we have lost several good receivers over the past twoseasons, but we have some recruits who are ready to attack theground.”

Head Coach: Glen Constantin

– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2014):14
– Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2014): 14
– Career regular season record with team: 91-16
– Career regular season record in CIS: 91-16
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffsonly): 128-24
– Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only):128-24

OFFENCE

Number of returning starters: 8

Key returning players:

Danny Groulx – Charles Vaillancourt – Karl Lavoie – PhilippeGagnon

Four of the five starters from what was considered by many asone of the best offensive lines in the country are back. Lavoie andVaillancourt were selected on the CIS first team All-Canadians in2013, the latter also appearing on the second Canadian squad in2012, his first season with the team. Groulx and Lavoie have alsoparticipated in the East-West Bowl in May, helping the East team towin by 19 to 12.

Maxime Boutin

With 449 rushing yards in eight games last season, it’sonce again in the playoffs that RB Maxime Boutin was the mostincisive. The #1 ran for 163 yards in the Uteck Bowl final againstthe Mount Allison Mounties, averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Then, inthe Vanier Cup final, the 2012 Ted Morris Trophy winner hasaccumulated another impressive total of 190 yards on 20carries.

Matthew Norzil

A nasty knee injury suffered in the first game of the 2013season caused the receiver to rest for several months.Laval’s best receiver in 2012 with 34 receptions for 548yards and six touchdowns, Norzil had become the favorite target ofTristan Grenon. He also added 116 yards on 10 carries.

Key recruits or transfers:

Christopher Amoah

The 5’10, 200-lb running back emerges from Upper Canada College(CISAA). Amoah was a member of the Quebec team in 2010 and 2011, inaddition to having participated in the World U-19 championship in2012, contributing to the Canadian victory over the Americans witha touchdown.

Vincent Alarie-Tardif

Rookie of the year of the RSEQ – Division III in 2010,Alarie-Tardif is another running back that may be seeing someaction quickly. Last year, he racked up 623 yards on 76 carrieswith Chicoutimi, averaging 8.2 yards per carry, in addition toscoring nine touchdowns.

Key losses: Pierre Lavertu (CalgaryStampeders), Yannick Morin-Plante (end of eligibility), PascalLochard (BC Lions)

DEFENCE

Key returning players:

Jean-Alexandre Bernier

Unexpected return for defensive tackle Jean-Alexandre Bernier,who believed that his college career was over after injuring hisAchilles tendon in training camp in 2013 that caused him to missthe entire season. Through his leadership, the member RSEQdefensive all-star team member in 2011 will bring much more than aphysical presence on the Laval front.

Vincent Desloges

Author of team-high 8.5 sacks in 2013, Desloges took advantageof a professional camp experience this summer with the OttawaRedBlacks, who have made him their 7th round choice at the last CFLDraft. Not only has he had a great season, Desloges improved hisgame even more in the playoffs with a total of eight quarterbacksacks in four games. He also received the Bruce Coulter Award forthe best defensive player in the 2013 Vanier Cup.

Mathieu Masseau

Linebacker Mathieu Masseau is becoming more and more importantin the Laval defensive unit, both on the field and in the lockerroom. The fourth-year veteran completed last season with 15 solotackles and 12 assisted. Masseau, who took part in the East-WestBowl in May, was named on the RSEQ defensive All-Star team the lasttwo seasons, in addition to being selected on the first CIS squadin 2012.

Key recruits or transfers:

Ugo Cavalancia

Cavalancia, a former Collège André Grasset (RSEQ-. Div II) player, has accumulated honors these past two years.Outstanding Defensive Player and Lineman last year, the 6-1, 270pounds was also selected on the defensive all-star team in 2012 and2013 Cavalencia managed 28 tackles, including seven for a loss andsix sacks last season.

Dominic Raimondo

Linebacker at Cégep du Vieux Montreal (RSEQ -. Div I),Dominic Raimondo could appear on the dress list quickly. The 6′ and215 lbs managed 34 solo tackles and 30 assisted in 2013, inaddition to breaking four passes.

Key losses:

Vincent Plante (end of eligibility), Abel Boucher (end ofeligibility), Adam Thibault (Calgary Stampeders)

SPECIALTEAMS

Key returning players:

Boris Bede

Kicker/punter Boris Bede will return for a final season with theRed and Gold. Author of 73 points last season (13 FGs, 25 PATs, 9rouges), the Frenchman impressed most with his power. He hasaveraged 41 yards per punt, but more importantly, he sent 33 of his82 strikes inside the opponent’s 20 yard-line. Bede has alsorepresented France at the last European Football Championship,where France finished 3rd.

Key losses:

Guillaume Rioux (end of eligibility)

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